Irrespective of one’s opinion of the recent relocation of asylum seekers from Texas to Portland, they were invited to our city with no indication from the inviter as to how their needs would be addressed. A potential crisis was averted by the competent professionalism of our city manager, Jon Jennings, who decisively executed a plan to deal with the arrivals, including city staff, individuals and communities who came together to make the integration of our new residents a successful transition.

Jennings was recognized with an award from the Maine Town and City Managers Association for leading Portland’s response to the new arrivals. Had it not been for his quick action, opening a shelter at the Expo and bringing the necessary resources to support these families, the outcome could have been very different in addressing an unexpected situation where an estimated 50 migrants grew to 450.

The African migrant families needed real solutions for real problems, easing their fears and making them feel safe after an incredible journey to Portland. Rather than cheerleading from the sidelines, the sincere commitment of all those who stepped up to the plate set a positive tone, making these families feel welcome with a true sense of humanity and empathy.

Congratulations on a well-deserved recognition and show of true leadership under fire when getting results really does matter – where action speaks louder than words.

Cheryl Leeman

former Portland mayor


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